Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

Kiwifruit News September 2023 Edition

James Trevelyan
Managing Director

Just four things to do

As the last fruit flows out of the coolstores, eight weeks earlier than last year, and with the orchards in varying levels of awakening, it is always good to briefly look over your shoulder and then think about what lies ahead.

This time last year I was wondering what had happened to bud break, was it a warm winter and/or a cold spring? No doubt multiple events resulted in a lack of volume for the industry, but the outcome has seen many balance sheets put under pressure.

As I drive around orchards this year, I am heartened to see a much-improved bud break; I just cannot quite see the bud numbers yet. Zespri is estimating that the industry will move from a total volume of 137m trays to an estimated number of 182m for this coming season. That is quite an increase.

For a successful season this coming year, there are four things that we cannot lose sight of. Firstly, we must improve our crop estimations so that we can have a better idea of what is going to arrive at our door. I acknowledge that estimation is a challenge; however, if we do what we always do, we will get the same result.

Secondly, to utilise the industries packing capacity, we need to start packing as soon as possible, as opposed to a patchy two-three-week lead-in, before we get underway.

Thirdly, the industry needs to know exactly how many export ships are planned for the season and their schedules, so we understand the demand for our coolstorage.

Finally, we need to look after fruit quality. Zespri has done an excellent job this year with their Quality Auditors in the packhouses, but there is still more work to do in this area. We must ensure that all post-harvest facilities adhere to the same packing and storage standards.

John Lewitt
Head of Operations and Logistics

Shipping and fruit loss

The last of our export kiwifruit was loaded out to Hong Kong during the last week of September. This is eight weeks earlier than a normal shipping season due to a much smaller national crop in 2023.

Despite the impact of frosts, floods and hailstorms, our fruit has performed exceptionally well this season, with fruit loss for all our fruit groups significantly lower than in 2022. Compared with the industry average fruit loss in 2023, our fruit has also performed exceptionally well, with fruit loss in all fruit groups apart from Organic SunGold significantly lower than the industry average. Our Organic SunGold fruit loss was slightly higher than the industry average, but still performed very well. Part of the reason for the higher than industry average fruit loss is a slower shipping programme than the rest of the industry due to our smaller share of the KiwiStart volume.

Physical Damage Rots and Non-Pathogenic Fungal Growth (NPFG) have consistently been the main reasons for repacking pallets across all fruit groups. This season, we saw lower levels of dehydration in the SunGold variety and lower levels of softs and soft patches in the Hayward variety, contributing towards our good fruit-quality results.

We now turn our focus towards planning for the 2024 harvest season. Currently, our plan is to pack in excess of 19 million trays of fruit. This will be a significant increase on 2023 volumes (which was a low volume season) of 14.5 million trays packed, and an increase on our 2022 volumes of 17.1 million trays packed.

Debbie Robinson
Head of Supply

The 2024 season

Planning to successfully pick, pack and ship the increased volumes predicted for 2024 is well underway. The following four principles add focus to industry discussions.

  1. Preserve high standards of fruit quality.
  2. An early start to the season and consistent flow of fruit.
  3. Reduce complexity throughout the supply chain.
  4. Industry collaboration and communication.

Taste Zespri Program

There have been detailed discussions during July and August with many of the industry groups and Zespri, who are now seeking feedback on the proposal (shown below) to make a material adjustment to the SunGold Conventional Taste Zespri Program, by reducing the Maximum Taste Payment (MTP). This change is expected to influence growers’ decisions regarding holding onto their fruit for taste and compromising overall fruit quality. If these changes to the GACK MTP are approved, some growers may try to set a larger crop. However, it’s important to remember that there is no intention to change the Minimum Taste Standard (MTS) as Zespri remains committed to the taste program.

The markets have been consulted and are prepared to support the change, so that the fruit is picked and packed at its optimal maturity and they receive overall better-quality fruit than they have in recent years.

There is no recommendation at this stage to change the Hayward MTP as this fruit group is more sensitive to changes in dry matter. SunGold Organic may also remain unchanged as it is a relatively small fruit group with different growing practices.

We need to wait and see if the industry agrees with this recommendation. It is important to keep in mind that if the assumed volumes are realised and we don’t have an early start with consistent fruit flow, we may end up with fruit being harvested and packed late, well past optimum maturity. The possible implications are that we could experience high fruit loss and quality costs.


Pranoy Pal
Kiwifruit Technical Manager

The importance of pollination in kiwifruit

Pollination is an important aspect of commercial kiwifruit production. Financial returns are dependent on the number of fruit, their shape, and, especially, the size and seed numbers, both of which are dependent on the level of pollination. Kiwifruit vines have few flowers and require higher levels of fruit set (>80%) compared to pip and stone fruit crops that need only a low percent fruit set. The flowers on kiwifruit vines are not highly attractive to insect pollinators since they do not produce nectar. The crop needs high shelter belts to protect the vines from wind damage, reducing pollination by the wind.

Most flowers of both sexes open in the morning before 0800 hrs. They continue to open wider until midday and then close in the afternoon. Female kiwifruit flowers are fully receptive to being pollinated when they open, and there is no significant drop-off in receptivity for the first eight days in the Hayward variety and two days in Gold3. By this time, the flowers will usually have lost all their petals, and the stigma will have started to wither and turn brown. Although receptivity declines after eight days, seeds can still be set-up to at least ten days after a flower opens.

Both male and female flowers produce pollen. The pollen from female flowers is not viable and contains little to no nutritional value for the insects that collect it. Male flowers produce up to three million pollen grains per flower (9.5 mg), however, male flowers that open late in the season only produce half this number.

Honeybees are the most commonly seen insects visiting kiwifruit flowers. However, many other insects have also been recorded. These include bumble bees, native bees, butterflies (such as the monarch butterfly, the red admiral butterfly, and the copper butterfly), flies, thrips, beetles (such as the longhorn beetle), moths, and, birds (such as the Tui)

For optimum pollination, 8-10 hives are required for Gold3 and 12-14 hives for Hayward. If the weather conditions are not ideal for bee pollination, growers often use supplementary pollination using wet or dry techniques.

Wet pollen application is recommended when rain or cold occurs during flowering, causing low bee activity, or where competition with another crop is causing bees to stray. It is also used when there are insufficient male flowers or a poor distribution of male flowers due to synchrony issues, the vine’s age, or bud rot. Single applications should be targeted at peak flowering (Gold3 and Red19) or 5-6 days after peak flowering in Hayward.

Dry pollen is applied using the broadcast method. It requires bees to transfer the pollen to female flowers and works best in situations where bees are active in the orchard – timing is key to the success of this technique. Applications of dry pollen should be completed in dry, warm weather, when bees are active, between 9 am-4 pm, with the best efficacy in the morning.

Hopefully, the weather will stay warm and dry this 2023-24 season and we will not require supplementary pollination. please ensure that you provide water and sugar solutions for the foraging bees.


Further reading

Zespri NK034 – Kiwifruit pollination – Quick reference guide.

Hintze K and Max W. (2022). Insuring your pollen policy. Kiwifruit Journal, Aug-Sept 2022, pages 21-24

Bex Astwood
Organic Category Manager

Zespri taste payments

Welcome to the September newsletter.

This month, we had a COKA (Certified Organic Kiwifruit Association) meeting, with Mel Walker from Zespri speaking about the changes to the crop protection standards and Dr Pranoy Pal talking about the effects of weather variability, and how to improve your soil through regeneration.

We also had the Zespri Organics Team there to discuss and seek feedback from COKA members on the proposed changes to the Zespri Taste Payments. The proposed options being considered for GAOB fruit are: changing the minimum taste payment (MTP) from 60% to 50% or 45% or retaining 60%.

The feedback provided by the COKA executive and members to Zespri was that GAOB growers do not commonly delay harvest to gain additional TZG points, with fruit usually being picked at optimum maturity (based off brix and firmness). In addition, GAOB crop loads are traditionally lighter than GACK, which mitigates the risk of low dry matter and small fruit. As such, it was recommended that the MTP remain at 60% for GAOB. It was great to have the opportunity to have this discussion with Zespri, allowing all our members an opportunity to voice their opinions. The final decision will need to go through ISG and IAC and the outcome will be issued in October.

I was delighted to hear that Zespri has announced that, to give us the best chance of meeting organic demand for Japan and Taiwan’s high-return markets, load-out premiums are now set for both GAOB and HWOB in the 2024 season. The rates, ranging from $75 to $150 per pallet, are contingent on the specific load week.

If you would like more information on pests found and identified during packing, contact your Kiwifruit Grower Service Representative to help with management options for pests on your orchard.

Nicole Masters, agroecologist, speaker, and author of “For the Love of Soil”, is hosting the “Building Soil Resilience Tour”, which is a two-day workshop hosted in the Waikato. For those interested, this will be an excellent opportunity to enhance your understanding of soil health and resilience, discover ways to optimise soil function, build healthier soils, and diagnose factors affecting soil health. More information can be found here.

Sarah Lei
Head of Sustainability

How to tackle the climate crisis…

I have spent the last few days online, listening to the discussions at the Auckland Climate Change and Business Conference. While it would have been great to attend the event in person, it’s hard to reconcile the idea of generating additional emissions in the process of addressing climate change, so live streaming is a great option.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Delivering Net Zero”. Speakers included Rachel Depree from Zespri, who talked about the kiwifruit industry’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which was released in December 2022. Just two months later, we saw the real need for such a plan as Cyclone Gabrielle severely impacted the kiwifruit harvest in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay regions.

One of the early sessions at the conference, titled “Taking the temperature on our climate transition: Where are we at, where do we need to be and how will we get there?”, contained an interesting analogy that outlines how we can tackle the climate crisis.

We can consider the level of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere to be like the level of water in a swimming pool. A hose fills the pool, representing the human heat-trapping gas emissions, and a drain acts like a nature-based and human carbon sink.

So, continuing with this analogy, we have three options to address the climate crisis. These are outlined in the following table along with specific examples for the kiwifruit industry.

A few weeks ago, I joined an industry group to participate in X-Lab, with the goal of helping to redesign the future of food. Our team included representatives from Trevelyan’s, Seeka, Apata and DMS. We spent three days diving-deep into the impacts of refrigerant emissions from our coolstores. We continue   developing this opportunity to help achieve a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions across our industry. This will “turn off the hose” and also ensure we can “learn to swim” as we work together to tackle the climate crisis.

Colin Olesen
TGL Chair

What does transparency produce?

Your Directors’ September meeting cast a careful eye over not just our operations but also the whole kiwifruit industry. We do this to ensure we are providing excellent service as a supply entity to Zespri, but also to ensure that overall, the complete industry is functioning as it should be and ensuring excellent quality fruit is delivered to market, to maximise the value of the Zespri brand.

At times, your Directors are concerned about quality outcomes. Once again, there is an industry discussion about the transparency of reporting fruit quality to all growers. One of the Trevelyan values is Respect Our People. It means we are committed to maintaining integrity and therefore transparency of both positive and negative results; transparency builds trust. Presently, industry fruit loss reports based upon supply entities are reported using ‘blind codes’. At Trevelyan’s rather than a ‘blind code’ we would prefer Zespri reporting figures to have the Trevelyan name stated beside the results. We own our results. If other supply entities followed our lead, then a minority of supply entities that still wanted to shield their results behind a ‘blind code’ would become obvious. If you agree with these sentiments, please feel free to talk about it outside the Trevelyan-grower-family and seek other industry viewpoints.

Your Directors will be assessing a review of the effectiveness of picking incentives at their next meeting. This policy needs to fit well alongside the recently introduced explosive fruit charge. Your Directors welcome feedback; we want to ensure that these incentives are effective and purposeful.

Year-to-date results around fruit loss, supplier accountability returns/penalties, and repack, suggest that the effort put into orchard harvest practices, and our postharvest packing, storage, and repack work, have all worked towards excellent Orchard Gate Returns (OGRs); both at the per tray rate, but more importantly, at a per canopy hectare rate.

Planning is now well advanced for the 2024 season, as we see a very early closure to the 2023 selling season. Our coolstores will have been emptied of kiwifruit eight weeks earlier than usual!

For TGL, it is election time and nominations are open. This year three Directors will retire by rotation, but are eligible for re-election, they are: Murray Cresswell, Kyle Howie, and Mat Johnston. Please consider who you feel should be nominated. If you need more information on the requirements of a TGL Director, please ask me or any current TGL Director. A nomination form can be obtained from the Trevelyan’s office and nominations close at 5pm on the 12th of October.


Outdoor kiwifruit roles available now!

If you, or anyone you know, is keen to get out on the orchards in mid-October, please let them know we have a few roles available. Please apply either via this link here or free-text JOBS to 8120.